Timorese chickens?

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Thu Feb 27 19:52:52 MST 2003

Dave Riley's rhetorical questions raise one genuine issue:

>>did the East Timorese intervention prevent the masive slaughter of
thousands more East Timorese  or didn't it?<<

The "massive slaughter" seems to be a myth. Here is what the East Timor
Action Network said about this after the event:

"A senior human rights official in the United Nations Transitional
Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) today said that an estimated 1,000 to
1,200 people had been killed during the violence that followed East Timor's
referendum for independence last September. Briefing the press in Dili, the
head of UNTAET's Human Rights Unit, Sidney Jones, noted that a more
accurate figure was expected to emerge from the continuing investigative
and forensic work."

1200 deaths is horrific enough, but not much different than some other
conflicts in the archipelago, where no one argued for sending troops.

What the Indonesians and their proxies actually did "massively" was wreck
property and infrastructure. I think this has to do with the TNI being
enraged at losing their local businesss profits, something I explained in
an earlier post.

Of course at the time we all thought there was semi-genocide going on, so
it's understandable most ordinary people thought sending troops made sense,
to prevent more killing. But you see, the actual dispatch of troops didn't
take place until the killing and general destruction was over.

This is logical, because:

a) Howard didn't give a stuff about the Timorese;
b) The Australian troops co-operated closely with the Indonesians
throughout the whole exercise. Here is what the leader of the Australian
forces, General Cosgrove, said about that:

"I would like to emphasise that the mission in East Timor was accomplished
with the co-operation of the Indonesian armed forces not, as has been
wrongly described by some commentators, (despite) them or in opposition to
them ... The Australian Defence Force's engagement with the Indonesian
armed forces over the past decades did have a payoff in East Timor. There
was a shared understanding by General Syahnakri and the Indonesian
commanders deployed with him just before Interfet arrived that it was in
everyone's interests to stabilise East Timor ... We all co-operated in
common purpose. We were helped by knowing each other and having gained
respect for each other through past regional military engagements."

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